Professional And ‘Ready Made’ Teeth Whitening Kits Compared

Using shop bought tooth whitening kits may not be as effective, or as safe, as you might think.

Teeth whitening is, understandably, one of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments currently available. Having nice white teeth is something that most of us would aspire to, given a choice between that or discoloured teeth.

Those who choose to do something about it may not, initially, consult a cosmetic dentist about how best to achieve this, and instead, look to either find a DIY solution or purchase a ready made kit from a shop.

The DIY approach often involves searching YouTube for instructional videos, but we don’t recommend that you do this! Whilst some ‘natural’ whitening tutorials are relatively harmless, though nearly always ineffective, others are very likely to cause serious harm to your teeth and gums.

Safe and effective home whitening kits?

The other option for many is to buy a kit from a shop. The logic behind this is often that if you buy them from a reputable shop, they will be safe and effective. Although this is definitely a better option than randomly buying an unknown brand from an unknown online retailer, there are still some issues involved, issues that aesthetic dentist, Dr Krupa Thakrar explains below:

Poor results?

Before we look at any potential issues when using these kits, it is worth addressing the main reason why people buy them in the first place; namely, to have whiter teeth. The key question then is do they work?

The fact is that if you use these kits, you may well be disappointed with the results. All whitening treatments involve the use of a bleaching ingredient that works to lighten the inner part of the tooth. Typically, this is hydrogen peroxide. Because, with unrestricted use, this is a potentially dangerous substance, its use is regulated. Although a home whitening kit will contain more of this active ingredient than a whitening toothpaste, it is still restricted due to safety concerns. The amount allowed is much less than if the treatment is overseen by a dentist and you should, therefore, not expect the same level of success.

Won’t mask dental problems

It is worth stating the obvious; that a tooth whitening kit will not correct problems like decay. That should go without saying, but it also will not correct any discolouration caused by early stage decay either. In fact, an important part of the process of having any cosmetic dental treatment is to ensure, beforehand, that both your teeth and gums are in good health. Failure to ensure that they are may cause further damage to your teeth, and potentially, some significant discomfort. We will always treat any problems found during your pre-treatment examination, before we whiten your teeth.


Home bought kits will include trays into which the whitening gel is placed and these are then placed over the teeth. Unlike the custom made trays that we provide at the Cygnet Dental Practice, which are made to fit your own teeth precisely, those in shop bought kits are generic in size and do not fit everyone’s teeth securely. This can cause some discomfort, including sore gums. It can also have more serious implications, as we will see below.

Irritated gums

However well intentioned the manufacturers might be, mass produced whitening trays mean that there is a risk that some of the whitening gel may escape and come into contact with the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth. This has been known to cause some visible irritation to the gums, lips and even the tongue; particularly where the kits do not meet approved standards. This is obviously not the result that patients are hoping for.


Without professional advice and supervision, there is a risk that you may not use the trays as recommended. Incorrect, or excessive, use of these could result in damage to the teeth. This could be painful and may well cause damage too.

Safe and effective teeth whitening

Although there are concerns about some whitening kits, when bought from a shop, or online; they are highly effective and safe when supplied by our Wickford cosmetic dentists. Each tray is made to fit the individual patient following scans being taken of the mouth. This ensures not only a more comfortable experience but a safer one too. In addition to this, as mentioned previously, the strength of the whitening gel is permitted to be much stronger than in a shop bought kit, when it is provided by a dentist. This means that you will see better results that will help you to achieve your original aim of having whiter teeth.

If your teeth are discoloured, whether through smoking, eating and drinking tooth staining food and drinks, or simply through general ageing, we can help. To arrange an initial consultation with one of the cosmetic dentists at our Wickford clinic, please call the Cygnet Dental Practice on 01268 733078.